Guest Post by NARAL Pro-Choice NC Volunteer Alice Wilder
I ran up the steps of the capitol, around the building and was met with a rush of pink and purple. My first instinct was to cry- being in the physical presence of activists felt like exhaling. Seeing the crowd was the first of many emotional moments at the Wednesday protest. SB 365 is horrifying, if passed, it would eliminate all but one abortion providers in North Carolina. It’s the Red Wedding of anti-choice legislation. Considering the stakes at this protest, you’d think it might be somber and angry- but that wasn’t my experience. Sure, there was anger, but I came away feeling immense love for NC pro-choicers. It’s difficult to sum up the energy of the protest, but here are some moments where I felt that love.
1. Watching how quickly everything came into place
I went to dinner with a friend, and by the time I came home around 7:30 my Twitter feed was filled with news of this bill. In no time, plans were being made. By 8:00 there was a Facebook event. Carpools were being organized.
2. Those in other states spreading the word
I follow many activists on Twitter, and I’ve gotten used to seeing them Tweet about Texas and Ohio. They’re probably pretty exhausted (what a week it’s been!) and it was wonderful to see solidarity from activists all over the country.
3. The young families
Our line of grass in front of the House was filled to the brim with children of all ages. Many played in the grass or sat on their mother’s hips as the protest went on. Older ones shouted along as we chanted. In front of me at one moment was a young mom with two toddlers on her hips, a boy and a girl. They were visibly tired, it was near the end of a long, hot morning. We made eye contact. “My mom took me to protests when I was their age” I told her. She smiled back, “so did mine.” And there she was, teaching her kids about democracy, leading by example. It was so beautiful to see so many generations of activism in one place.
4. Solidarity even in silence
My friend Rachel and I ventured up to the outside of the gallery to watch the proceedings. It was eerie to be so close to legislators trying to make laws controlling my body- but an honor to be near the senators defending our right to choice. Those activists in the gallery were not allowed to make any noise or hand motions. It was a shock to go from outside, where we were yelling ourselves hoarse to inside, where yelling would almost definitely invite arrest. As I neared the glass to get a glimpse of the senators, I saw two people holding hands in silence. It was a moving expression of solidarity in a space intended to oppress citizens.